A/V Room









Cabin Fever - Preview & US reaction

Preview by: Jack Foley

'I THINK that the horror genre is definitely coming back. I think movies like The Ring, really helped it out, and The Others... Right now, movies like House of a Thousand Corpses, and 28 Days Later, are doing very, very well in America, but I think that horror has been in the shitter since 1985... What the fuck happened to horror movies?'

So says Eli Roth, the livewire director of cult new horror movie, Cabin Fever, which opened to critical acclaim in US cinemas at the weekend (September 12).

Roth was speaking at a Q&A following an advance screening of his movie in London earlier this year, and had plenty to say on the subject.

And yet he is talking from a position of strength. Cabin Fever is the type of horror classic that is evoking favourable comparisons with the likes of George Romero, Wes Craven, John Carpenter and, more latterly, the likes of The Blair Witch Project.

The film tells the story of five college friends, cut loose after their finals, who go on a vacation to a cabin in the woods to enjoy a few days of debauchery and fun.

After a particularly madcap incident, they begin to grow paranoid that they have become infected with a flesh-eating virus.

But as fear of the contagion and distrust sets in, they begin to realise that any one of them could have it - and that it may already be too late to prevent the inevitable.

Cabin Fever will be released by Redbus Film Distribution in cinemas across the UK from October 10 and looks set to be the hottest ticket for fright fans this Halloween.

The film, which expertly mixes stark horror with unexpected humour and plenty of movie in-jokes, stars Rider Strong (Boy Meets World), Jordan Ladd (Never Been Kissed), Joey Kern (Super Troopers), Cerina Vincent (Not Another Teen Movie) and James DeBello (Swimfan).

Roth co-wrote the screenplay with fellow debutant, Randy Pearlstein from a story by Roth.

And when asked to elaborate more on how he feels about the horror movie genre, at present, he states:

"The last good horror movie was Re-Animator, and what happened was, basically in pop culture, Schwarzenegger movies took over and it was no longer about what was a scary idea, but, like, how can we kill these different people; what weapons do we use; what punchline can the killer make every time he kills someone?

"When Arnold Schwarzenegger is asked what happens to a certain character and he says, ‘I let them go’ [referring to dropping someone off the side of a mountain], American writers ate that shit up. It was like Freddy Kreuger came along and was uttering lines like, ‘have a knife day!’

"What the fuck happened to horror movies? I mean, in the Seventies, you had directors like William Friedkin, Richard Donner, Stanley Kubrick, who made horror movies; and then in the Eighties you got these fucking shitty slasher movies.

"I mean nothing happened until Scream. Then Scream comes along and it’s great, because these kids are aware of other horror films, but then, unfortunately, the screen rip-offs are all like, ‘woah, let’s make a horror movie!’ - they have to reference everything to death, and again it no longer became about what’s scary, but how can we kill the kids this time."

With the new batch, however, Roth has seen some hope for the future and has reportedly teamed up with Donnie Darko writer/director, Richard Kelly, for his next 'fucked up' adventure.

US reaction

Cabin Fever has gone down a storm in America, where the majority of critics found it a refreshing change from the horror norm.

Comments such as, 'this impressively icky, witty scare pic from director, Eli Roth, combines the hillbilly-country horror of the first Blair Witch Project with the viral decimation and paranoia of 28 Days Later', from the Philadelphia Inquirer, seemed to be the order of the day.

The Detroit Free Press, meanwhile, wrote that 'on the surface, Cabin Fever might seem like just another ripoff of the Michigan-made cult classic The Evil Dead, but it has a style and sense of humor entirely its own'.

And the Detroit News wrote that 'Cabin Fever may be low-budget gore-gore silliness, but it's passionate low-budget gore-gore silliness'.

The New York Times, meanwhile, wrote that Cabin Fever represents 'an unusually potent blend of dread, gore and gallows humor', while the Globe and Mail opined that 'Cabin Fever is imitative, but it's honestly and even reverentially so - what Roth borrows he at least has the grace to pay back'.

USA Today felt that '[Roth] has more going for him cinematically than the folks who did The Blair Witch Project'.

While Village Voice wrote that 'beginning with the sound of flies over the opening credits, Roth's sure-handed movie is rife with queasy discomfort'.

And E! Online wrote that 'what makes this gross-out number stand out from the menacing movie masses is not that it's shot with gritty, low-budget cinematography but that it's freakin' nasty'.

There were some negative notices, however, with a few critics finding the in-jokes a little too repetitive.

The Boston Globe, for example, stated that 'the movie is well shot and decently acted for its genre, but it lacks the distinctive vision to make it of value to anyone not already convinced of the inherent entertainment value in flying body parts'.

And Entertainment Weekly felt that it 'would make a decent midnight movie, but I wish there were something in it that felt original'. It awarded it a C+.

Hollywood Reporter, meanwhile, felt that it 'ultimately coaxes more titters than jitters', while the Chicago Tribune felt that it 'doesn't have enough of a twist to improve on the type of films it's derived from'.

The San Francisco Chronicle went a little bit further, however, writing that 'Cabin Fever starts small, and stays small, never reaching the transcendent Blair Witch heights of the biggest low-budget successes'.

And the Washington Post opined that 'this movie may appeal to the youthful, midnight-madness crowd, but there isn't enough in it to bestow it with classic B-movie glory'.

But back to the positives, and Hollywood Bitchslap wrote that 'Cabin Fever takes the standard conventions of slasher flicks and turns them on their ear, straddling the line between parody and originality and humping it madly. This is not your average walk in the horror park - this is a cinema fan's wet dream'.

Slant Magazine, meanwhile, wrote that 'if the film's scares don't shock you, then you're sure to catch its razor-sharp wit'.

And Rolling Stone concludes this round-up by hailing as 'a blast of good gory fun that just won't quit', adding that it resembles 'a greatest-hits of horror'.

IndieLondon will, of course, be delivering its verdict in October, but you can catch some teaser trailers and clips by following the links in the right hand column of this page...

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